Most people understand that if they are arrested, it is possible that their visas will be revoked. DUIs, drug possession, domestic violence, shoplifting – these are just some of the situations in which individuals with valid visas have their visas revoked. But what is less known – and understood – is that the Department of State has the ability to revoke visas for any reason in which eligibility is questioned. In other words, the inquiry into whether an individual qualifies for a visa does not stop at the time of issuance; it is a process that can be – and often is – reactivated at any time after issuance. In fact, we are seeing more revocations for non-criminal issues than criminal problems.
So what leads to this re-examination of an individual’s eligibility? The trigger points for such a “verification reactivation” are numerous. For example, consular officers conduct validation studies, checking on a certain percentage of applicants who were issued visas to see if they complied with the terms of the visa. If in the course of the investigation they uncover new information that calls into doubt information that was in a visa application (e.g., place of employment, intended length of stay in the US, purpose of visit to the US), they may revoke the visa. If a relative of a visa holder applies for a visa, and in the course of the interview information comes to light about the visa holder (for example, located in the US in B status for the past 6 months), the consular officer may revoke the visa. If the visa holder applies for a new type of visa while still holding a valid visa, denial of the new visa can prompt revocation of the existing one. We often see this when a holder of a visitor visa applies for an F-1 student visa. If a poison pen letter is sent to the Embassy describing certain visa shenanigans (e.g., a sham marriage), the consular officer out of an abundance of caution may revoke a visa – and if the information is confirmed, permanently bar the individual under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Non-criminal revocation victims often ask: “Why is my visa being revoked? I did not violate any laws.” For example, the visa holder may stay in and travel around the US for a protracted period of time – say for 5 months – after CBP allowed for a stay of 6 months. Technically, the visa holder has not violated any laws. But the consular rebuttal is simple: you said in your visa application you were only going for a month, so why are you now staying for 5 months? Or if it was not the first entry to the US after the visa application (and thus there is not a possible misrepresentation in the visa application), the consular officer may be questioning what you were doing in the US for so long. How did you support yourself? Were you illegally working? Another legitimate question raised relates back to one of the requirements of the B visa in the first place: having ties to the home country (a foreign residence which the applicant does not intend to abandon). If you are young and single and do not have any property in the home country, and you spend 5 months in the US on a visit, the consular officer may be questioning whether you abandoned your residence and thus takes steps to revoke the visa. Women who give birth in the US who relied on public assistance to pay the medical bills also find themselves subject to visa revocation. In short, the reasons for visa revocation are numerous.
The good news is that notwithstanding the visa revocation, sometimes a new visa can be issued after a reapplication. This entails applying for a new visa and going through another interview with the consular officer – and trying to convince the consular officer of your eligibility for a visa. We have helped many individuals secure new visas after revocation. If your visa has been revoked or are concerned that your visa will be revoked, please contact us.